Early childhood and women’s center a possibility for Ardendale development

    The YWCA of Baton Rouge is eyeing a five-acre tract of the Ardendale development as the potential site of an early childhood and women’s center.
    The East Baton Rouge Parish Redevelopment Authority will consider transferring the Ardendale property to the YWCA at its board retreat on Thursday.
    The facility would provide child care assistance to low-income women who are trying to enter the workforce or pursue an education. Health services would also extend to pregnant women. The building, estimated to cost some $5 million, would have capacity to provide services to 12 pregnant woman and 136 children aged up to 3 years old, with the center accepting children as young as six weeks old.
    Dianna Payton, CEO of the YWCA, says the concept has been in the works for over a year.
    “It’s going to have all the wraparound services a woman would need to strengthen herself to become as fully functioning and whole as possible,” Payton says, noting her organization is in the process of designing the building’s layout.
    The RDA land transfer is the next step needed for the group to move forward with the idea. Payton says the center would be a “much-needed service” to Ardendale, a 200-acre mixed-use development near Baton Rouge Community College that will feature several educational institutions and housing.
    “Here in Louisiana alone, we have the third-highest rate of domestic homicide for women in the country, and Louisiana is No. 50 out of 51 when it comes to women’s pay rates,” she says. “We have a lot of work to do when it comes to women’s empowerment.”
    While the YWCA already has received some federal funding, it’s also looking to acquire funds from a capital campaign and private donations, as well as a CNI grant application submitted by the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority.
    If the RDA transfer is approved, Payton says she hopes to open the center within the next year.

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